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Hot Shooting Carries Miami to Decisive Win in NIT Opener

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Box Score | Miami Postgame Press Conference | FAU Postgame Press Conference

By Rob Dunning

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – FAU did all it could to hang around with Miami but in the end, the Hurricanes were just too much for the Owls to handle.

The second-seeded ‘Canes pulled away from seventh-seeded FAU for a 85-62 win in the opening round of the 2011 National Invitational Tournament Wednesday night at the BankUnited Center.

The win advances second-seeded Miami (20-14) into the NIT’s second round where it will host to third-seeded Missouri State (26-8) on Monday, March 21, at 7 p.m. in an ESPN-televised game.

Outside a few quick spurts by the Owls, Miami had complete control of this one throughout, thanks to a season-best shooting performance and a dominant performance in the paint by center Reggie Johnson, who pulled down a career-high 20 rebounds – the most for a ‘Cane since the return of Miami basketball in 1985-86.

 

  1st 2nd F
#7 Florida Atlantic 28 34 62
#2 Miami 39 46 85
Team Stat Comparison
  UM FAU
Points 85 62
FG Made-Attempted 30-50 22-57
FG Percentage 60.0 38.6
3P Made-Attempted 5-17 4-16
3P Percentage 29.4 25.0
FT Made-Attempted 20-26 14-22
FT Percentage 76.9 63.6
Rebounds 36 28
Assists 11 6
Turnovers 7 8
     
Miami Stat Leaders FAU
M. Grant 23 Points 17 G. Gantt
R. Johnson 20 Rebounds 6 G. Gantt
D. Scott 4 Assists 3 A. Tucker
J. Gamble 1 Steals 2 Taylor, Tucker
J. Gamble 2 Blocks 2 B. Royster

The ‘Canes connected on 60-percent of its attempts against the Owls, topping their previous best mark this season of 54.9-percent set against Maryland on March 2.

All-ACC third-teamer Malcolm Grant led all scorers with 23 points while Johnson recorded his 13th double-double of the season with 14 points to go with his 20 boards.

Grant’s 20-plus point outing was his eighth this season.

Durand Scott, who hit on 4-of-6 from the field and a perfect 10-of-10 from the line, finished the night with 19 points, four assists and a couple rebounds to join Grant and Johnson in leading the ‘Canes.

Greg Gantt led FAU with 17 points.

FAU opened things up by jumping out to a 6-2 lead but Miami responded with a 15-3 run to go up eight midway through the first half. FAU made a few small runs the rest of the period but the ‘Canes were able to maintain their comfortable lead to take a 39-28 advantage into the half.

The Owls cut into Miami’s lead in the second half, pulling to within six with 11:34 to play, but that would be as close as they would get. Feeling their lead starting to slip away, the ‘Canes rallied for a 15-1 run to go up 66-46 with 4:23 to play.

From there, they never looked back.

The 23-point win was Miami’s largest margin of victory since beating Pepperdine, 94-59, on Dec. 30, 2010. It marked also marked the ‘Canes fifth 20-plus point win of the season.

Miami out-rebounded FAU, 36-to-28, and held a 42-to-28 edge in points in the paint, thanks mostly to Johnson’s big night inside.

The victory secured Miami’s third 20-win season in the last four seasons under head coach Frank Haith. It also means the ‘Canes are one more game closer to Madison Square Garden, home of the NIT Finals.

One down, two more to go to get to New York City.

Next up, Missouri State.

With the win tonight…

  • Miami registers its third 20-win season in the last four years under head coach Frank Haith.
  • Improves Miami’s record to 20-1 against the Owls all-time with their fifth win in a row in the series.
  • Improves Miami’s record against the Owls to a perfect 15-0 all-time in Coral Gables.
  • Improves Miami’s record to 4-3 in NIT games under Haith and 5-9 in NIT games in program history
  • Improves Miami’s record to 2-0 in NIT home games

Tonight’s Starters
Starting for Miami tonight was Rion Brown, Garrius Adams, Reggie Johnson, Malcolm Grant and Adrian Thomas.  This was the first game this season to feature this starting five.

Tonight’s Opponent
Florida Atlantic, who matched a program best with 21 wins this season, earned an automatic berth into the NIT field by winning the Sun Belt’s regular-season title.

March Madness
The Hurricanes have now advanced to the postseason for the fifth time in seven seasons under Frank Haith and are 4-3 in the NIT and 5-4 overall in the postseason under Haith.
  
From Downtown
Malcolm Grant hit one three-pointer to extend his three-point streak to an ACC-long 21-straight games, tying for the fifth-longest streak in Miami history. With 151 career threes in just his second season as Hurricane, Grant is in 10th place all-time in program history in triples made, while his 90 three-pointers this season are fourth-best in Miami history. 

Grant — who entered the tournament leading the ACC in three-point field goal percentage, three-pointers per game and free throw percentage — has hit a three in 31 of 34 games this season, with three-plus threes 19 times — including in 14 of the last 20 games.

Adrian Thomas hit the first three-pointer of the game to extend his three-point streak to 19-straight games for the second-longest active streak in the ACC behind Grant and the seventh-longest streak in UM history. His 89 three-pointers this season are fifth-most in a single season by a Hurricane, while his 200 career threes rank fifth. Thomas has hit three-plus threes 17 times this season and 34 times over his six-year career.

Free Points
Durand Scott added 19 points for the Hurricanes, giving him double-digit scoring performances in 35 of his last 43 games. Scott went 10-of-10 from the free throw line in tonight’s contest, just the 12th player in school history to go perfect from the line with at least 10 attempts in one game.

Hello Again
Adrian Thomas made his 130th career appearance for the Hurricanes on Wednesday night, tying the school record set by Thomas’ former teammates James Dews (2006-10) and Brian Asbury (2005-09).

Monster on the Boards
Reggie Johnson, who was fourth in the ACC this season in rebounding, grabbed a career-high 20 boards to go with 12 points for his team-leading 13th double-double of the year – tying All-American Tim James for the third most in a season since the return of UM basketball in 1985-86. In addition, Johnson became the first UM player since basketball returned to Miami to grab at least 20 rebounds in one game. Johnson now has 331 rebounds on the season, the seventh highest total in UM history a single season.

Driving Force
Malcolm Grant led the ‘Canes—and all scorers—with 23 points, his eighth 20-plus point game of the season.  He is now tied with Durand Scott for the most 20 point games in a career (8) among active players.  This was the first game of the season in which Grant has scored 20 or more points without making multiple three-pointers. He did make it to the charity stripe 11 times for the third time this season he has had 10-or-more free throw attempts.

Ball Control
The Hurricanes turned the ball over a season-low 7 times versus the Owls.

Hot Shooting Hurricanes
Miami converted a season-high 60.0 percent (30-50) from the field versus FAU – the highest shooting percentage for the ‘Canes since hitting 63.2 percent (24-38) versus Virginia Tech on Jan. 31, 2010, in an 82-75 win at the BankUnited Center.

Up Next
Miami will next host Missouri State on Monday, March 21 at 7 p.m.  The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.